For decades, Americans have benefitted from low-cost fruits, vegetables and other basic services produced by undocumented labor. It is estimated that 70 percent to 80 percent of our food is picked by undocumented workers. Like so many other Americans, they moved here due to economic, religious and political oppression.
Both political parties acknowledge that our immigration system needs fixing, yet nothing is being done. Both parties also agree that immigration reform would be good for our economy. Republican Presidents Reagan and George H.W.Bush granted a unilateral exemption to 1.5 million immigrants and amnesty to millions more. In 2012, our country deported over 400, 000 people--an astounding figure in terms of the resulting human misery.
While President Obama has created an executive order to address the problem, it will only affect potentially 4 million people by providing deportation deferment and does not guarantee that the protection is permanent. There is no protection for farm workers.
I believe our immigration system is broken and promotes economic inequality, worker fear and exploitation, criminalization of workers and family separation. As a person of faith, I believe all of us share responsibility for these issues. The next time you sit down to eat, remember that undocumented workers picked the food on your plate.
Ann V. Stevenson